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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN

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A Burial That Blesses

A man opened a new business and his best friend sent him a floral arrangement. The friend dropped by a few days later and was sorry to see the flowers had a card that read, "Rest In Peace." He called the florist to complain, and the florist said, "It could be worse. Somewhere in this city is an arrangement in a cemetery that reads, "Congratulations On Your New Location." Spiritually speaking, the same message could be sent to those who have died to sin and been buried with Christ in baptism. Romans 6:3-4 reminds us that baptism plays a vital role in changing our spiritual location! That passage reads, "Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." A simple and unbiased reading of this passage makes clear that baptism is a burial that blesses!

Baptism blesses first of all because it is "into Jesus Christ." Spiritually speaking, there are and always will be only two spheres of spiritual existence: either "in Christ" or "in the world." The difference in these two spiritual locations in writing is a matter of only a few letters, but the difference in reality is incalculable. Salvation is "in Christ Jesus" (2 Timothy 2:10); eternal life is "in His (God's) Son" (I John 5:11); every spiritual blessing is located "in Christ" (Ephesians 1:3); and for those who are "in Christ" there is now "no condemnation" (Romans 8:1). The list could go on and on, but those who are "in Christ" are in a sphere of comprehensive and superlative spiritual provisions! Contrast that to those who are not in Christ: "without Christ .... having no hope and without God in the world" (Ephesians 2:12).

Baptism blesses again because it is "into His (Christ's) death." That is, baptism gives us access to the benefits of Christ's death! A bank may have millions of dollars in its vault. But all that money helps an individual not one bit unless he/she can access it. Baptism buries us into Christ's death, thereby giving us access to all the things Jesus died to accomplish for us (forgiveness, salvation, sanctification, etc.).

Baptism blesses yet again because after burial into Christ's death we are raised to walk in "newness of life." Baptism is a tomb where we bury the old man of sin. But it is also a womb from which God raises us to "newness of life." While debates about baptism continue among believers in Christ, the Bible clearly portrays baptism as a burial that blesses!

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ